Crown Publishers, $26.00, 0290 pages, ISBN 978-1-101-90373-5
Regular readers and fans of the Mysterious Book Report are all aware by now that our primary focus is to encourage reading by discovering new and unknown crime fiction writers who show a lot of promise . . . someone an enthusiast can read, enjoy and grow with for years to come. An author you can tell your friends about. An author you’ll learn from with each new novel, because they’ve created a fictional world unlike anything in your own personal life experiences. We don’t always hit that sweet spot, but when we do, they’re authors we’ll all follow for their entire career. MBR No. 258 is just such a one . . . it’s an epic body of work in the making.
Dodgers, by Bill Beverly is a glimpse into the low end of the drug business, told from the perspective of a fifteen year-old South Central Los Angeles gang-banger known by the street name East. He’s hard, street-wise and unaware of the world outside the city streets of L.A., where he runs a crew of five other boys who act as ‘watchers,’ the ones who stand along the block, watching for the cops, or rival gangs, or armed robbers who’ve come to steal the proceeds and drug supply in the stash-house. But, on the day the cops do come, the watchers don’t call. The place is raided and East is held accountable by his uncle Fin, who owns the house, runs the gang and is about to go on trial . . . with a life sentence in the balance if he’s convicted. In order to prevent that from happening and give East a chance to redeem himself, Fin sends his young nephew on a mission. All the boy, (who’s never been out of Los Angeles in his life), has to do is travel two thousand miles in a van with three other teens, kill someone, then make it back to L.A. without incident. And so begins the strange odyssey of four black city boys into the mostly white heartland of Midwest America on a blood mission to save an arch-criminal from punishment. Boys sent to do a man’s job. It’s a coming-of-age story, a time of self-discovery as the four travelers, who’re often at odds with each other, have to decide what kind of men they’re going to be. Dodgers is a harrowing, brutal tale told in evocative language, that inserts the reader into the exact dead-center of a world she or he never knew existed. Pay attention. These are the words of a major new American literary talent finding his voice. It’ll be a loud roar before Bill Beverly is done!